Derrick Favors, Not Gordon Hayward, Is Real Utah Jazz Franchise Building Block

By all accounts, the Utah Jazz are Gordon Hayward’s team.

The fifth-year forward enters the 2014-15 season with the heaviest contract on the franchise’s books ($14.7 million). Last time around, the former Butler University star led the club in scoring (16.2) and field-goal attempts (13.4) while ranking second in assists (5.2).

He was also the organization’s lone participant at Team USA’s training camp—sophomore point guard Trey Burke suited up for the Select Team—though he was one of the last four players cut before the group took off for the FIBA World Cup.

In terms of both salary and stature, Hayward has been thrust into the driver’s seat. And he has had trouble just getting the car out of the lot.

“While the Jazz’s roster is intriguing, they’ve yet to add that go-to player who could be a star,” wrote ESPN Insider Chad Ford (subscription required). “Their roster feels like a collection of good second or third starters on a playoff team.”

A shot at Utah’s lack of star power is a shot at Hayward himself. While Ford is right that the forward doesn’t appear to have go-to-player potential, it’s hard casting that net across the entire roster.

Derrick Favors, the No. 3 pick in 2010, has the ceiling of a skyscraper—and nearly the same reach. The Jazz aren’t without a cornerstone piece, they just haven’t moved the right building block into that position yet.

Favors has four seasons under his belt and, admittedly, nothing that remotely resembles the resume of a franchise face. There has been some growth in his game, but in some respects, he’s still the same defensively disruptive, offensively limited physical specimen who needed just a single season at Georgia Tech to punch his NBA ticket.

Yet, it’s hard to characterize that as a cause for concern.

Last season was the first in which he was handled without kid gloves. His playing time jumped to 30.2 minutes per game, a full seven minutes more than his previous career high. His field-goal attempts average (10.2) and usage percentage (20.8) were also personal peaks.

With Favors’ increased exposure came added production. He played better as the spotlight shined brighter on him.

The same cannot be said for Hayward. The heavier his workload has gotten over time, the less efficient he’s become. The Jazz have asked him to be their No. 1 option, but the stat sheet says it’s a role he simply isn’t equipped to fill.

Both of Utah’s building blocks are moving but not in the same direction.

Everything is trending up for Favors. He is becoming a better contributor in terms of both quantity and quality.

His numbers read like those of a young player who needed some seasoning on this stage. Go back through his old scouting reports, and you’ll find some variation of that description. Favors has always been a long-term investment, and the Jazz are just starting to see the type of return he can offer.

Even in his unpolished state coming out of college, Favors had centerpiece potential.

His physical gifts graded off the charts.

He had the size of a center and athleticism of a power forward. And he was above average in both respects. He had a longer wingspan (7’4″) and higher standing reach (9’2″) than the average center in the DraftExpress database (7’2.6″ and 9’1.3″, respectively). His max vertical (35.5″) and three-quarter court sprint (3.25) easily outpaced the average 4 (33.2 and 3.32).

But he wasn’t simply an elite athlete. He was a premier player who possessed elite athleticism.

While breaking down his strengths, DraftExpress labeled four areas of his game as excellent: hands, touch, wingspan and rebounding. The scouting website also lauded his pick-and-roll defense, shot-blocking, defensive versatility, finishing ability both at the rim and through contact, work ethic and quickness.

Add a jump shot to the equation, and you might have built the perfect big for today’s NBA. And remember, this was when he was still a teenager who was dominating with crude natural gifts.

He’s still sharpening some of his tools, but his collection is more refined than his numbers suggest.

Defensively, he’s already the biggest deterrent that Utah has. His length and explosiveness help him anchor that end, but his focus, understanding and attention to detail all factor into the equation as well.

“By all accounts, Favors has become the de facto captain of the Jazz defense,” wrote Salt City Hoops’ Dan Clayton. “He sported the highest rating on the Jazz’s proprietary defensive adherence system, and often directed others as to the right spots and rotations.”

Offensively, Favors does the majority of his damage around the basket. He was a 69.6 percent shooter within three feet of the basket last season and converted only 36.2 percent of his attempts beyond that range.

That said, his soft hands and interior touch could be potent weapons under new head coach Quin Snyder.

“In Snyder’s uptempo offense, he could finally have what media outside Utah would consider a breakout season,” wrote Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey. “He’ll get plenty of opportunities around the rim as the big man in pick-and-roll sets and as a finisher on the break.”

And if Favors is excited to start working with Snyder, it sounds like the feeling is mutual, via Jody Genessy of the Deseret News:

Favors can fill Utah’s star void. He has all the necessary ingredients to have that type of impact.

And he’s willing to put in the effort needed to maximize his potential, as Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune explained:

Heading into his fifth season, the Jazz big man knows that he needs to expand his offensive game and continue to evolve into a defensive and rebounding force at the other end of the floor.

To that end, Favors’ off-season has been dedicated to expanding the range on his jumper, adding moves with his back to the basket and losing weight. Favors is expected to play center in Snyder’s new offense. Largely gone are the days of him occupying the low post. Much of his time will be spent playing pick-and-roll basketball with the guards.

‘When I was younger, I would try to dunk on everyone,’ Favors said. ‘But I know that’s not possible all the time.’

Especially not for a player with ambitions as high as Favors’, per Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune:

Even with four years of mileage on Favors’ NBA odometer, it’s still impossible to place a proper ceiling on his production.

His strength in the pick-and-roll will only be augmented by the growth of Trey Burke and Dante Exum. Favors’ face-up game could grow exponentially if he becomes a more comfortable shooter and pulls his defender further away from the rim.

He’s just now starting to scratch the surface, and Utah must make sure it doesn’t prevent his ascent.

Hayward is a nice piece, as are Burke, Alec Burks, Enes Kanter and, for now, Exum. But Favors could be the one who brings the puzzle together.

If Utah wants to capitalize on its tantalizing young collection of talent sooner than later, it needs to let Favors lead the way—and be prepared to follow his rise through the ranks.

 

Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com.

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Realistic Expectations for Dante Exum’s Rookie Season with Utah Jazz

If you are a Utah Jazz fan and panicking about Dante Exum, then please stop now.

It’s way too early to abort the mission.

There’s no doubt about it—Exum is playing at a low level. He’s a young kid who was selected with the No. 5 pick in the NBA draft, but doesn’t look anything like a top-level draft pick. All signs are pointing to a scary feeling in regard to Exum, however, we have to remember his age, talent level and the amount of time remaining before he’ll need to be great.

There’s going to be more than enough bumps to go around during his rookie season, but it’s all part of the process.

Let’s take a look at why the fear of failure is premature, and why he’ll end up in a much better position than he’s currently at.

 

Age

Getting drafted into the NBA at 18 years old has to be intimidating. Not only has the body not matured, but that kind of timing means the amount of game experience for someone that age is relatively low.

Sean Deveney of sportingnews.com interviewed an Eastern Conference scout who was on hand for the FIBA basketball tournament, and asked him about Exum and if he had any doubts about his future. Here’s what the scout had to say:

He’s not ready for the NBA, that is for sure. But a lot of guys are not ready for the NBA and they have got to learn on the fly. He is no different. But he is not going to jump into the league and all of a sudden average 20 points a game. There’s just no way.

He is really, really good in the pick-and-roll. He knows how to take the pick and emerge with his head up and he sees the whole floor. He will get better with his decision-making as time goes on and he gets experience, but that ability to come off the pick like that, you know being able to see and process everything immediately with your head up, that is something you can’t teach.

At first glance it looks as though Exum is being talked about as a player who has all the skills necessary to be a great player, but lacks all the experience.

He only turned 19 years old this summer and will be starting his rookie season while most other kids his age will be starting their Freshmen year of college. Achieving success at the NBA level is tough to come by period.

It’s going to be even harder for Exum during his rookie season, though. He’ll be playing against guys who already have the confidence necessary to have big nights, on top of besting him in almost every physical category.

Again, don’t freak out, yet.

Exum might not currently be where fans hoped he would, but his age is clearly a reason to hold off most concern over the subject.

He’s still only a kid.

 

Talent

Has Dante Exum been playing bad basketball lately? Absolutely. Has any of it had to do with how talented he is as a player?

Not one bit.

It’s strictly a confidence issue. Averaging 7.2 points, 2.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 26.6 minutes per game during the NBA summer league was a mediocre showing at best. His mentality clearly altered his entire game as he only shot the ball 7.8 times in each contest.

If that wasn’t bad enough, FIBA basketball decided to roll around.

Exum managed to lower his numbers to 2.7 points, 1.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists. There’s no reason why he couldn’t average point totals in the teens if we were going strictly based off a bigger role, his athleticism and talent, however, that’s not how the game is played. Being confident that you’re able to dominate your competition is just as important as being good enough to actually do it.

Having the correct mentality to become an elite player is significantly easier to teach than the talent associated with being a special member in the game of basketball.

Exum has all the skills in the world, which puts us far from panic time.

 

Time

Being patient is one of the hardest things for any fan to do. It’s so difficult because wanting instant success is a natural feeling.

Still though, Utah will have every opportunity to grow as both individuals and a team. The Jazz have the NBA’s youngest team with an average age of 23.5. This will only lead toward improvement and a better sense of team unity.

Exum will be one of the driving factors in this process.

Being worried about how he’s currently playing makes a lot of sense. He’s performed incredibly poorly for someone touted as a potential No. 1 pick, and he doesn’t look like he’ll have too much of an impact on the 2014-15 season.

Whether that’s true or not doesn’t matter, though. It’s all about if he’ll be able to get to where his potential suggests he could reach.

Society still seems to be working on time travel and developing a fast-forward button, so it’s up to us to wait and see how it all plays out.

Exum is young and has more than enough talent to turn into an All Star-caliber player capable of being one of Utah’s leaders.

It just won’t take place during his rookie season.

Exum doesn’t have the confidence or physique to be a top performer on a nightly basis. He’ll have to take his bruises along with most other rookies. It’s going to be a cause for concern as his improvements will come at a slow rate, but he’s good enough to make people laugh for ever doubting him.

If he’s able to correctly develop during what seems like a lifetime of an NBA career ahead of him, then he’ll likely turn into exactly who fans hoped the Jazz drafted.

Something that would be great to see.

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Andrei Kirilenko’s Utah Home Burglarized: Latest Details and More

Brooklyn Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko’s Utah home was robbed over the weekend, although nothing too valuable was taken. 

Kirilenko, who played with the Utah Jazz from 2001 to 2011, spends much of his time in New York with his wife, Masha Lopatova, but the two still own a house in Salt Lake City, where they plan to return full-time once the former All-Star retires from the NBA.

According to Lopatova, via the Deseret News‘ Pat Reavy, the couple is currently in New York but were notified by a friend that their garage doors were open. When the friend checked out the inside of the house, items appeared to be missing. Lopatova, who said the burglars passed up valuable works of art and didn’t get any of Kirilenko’s memorabilia, wasn’t overly upset about the lost goods.

“It was time for a cleanup anyway. They kind of helped us,” she said. “It’s definitely not a very pleasant thing when someone does this without permission. They should have asked. We would have given it to them.”

She was more shocked considering the location of the crime: 

Utah has a reputation of being the safest place on Earth, and you never think something like this can happen in Utah. We never locked the doors in 10 years (when we lived there) and nothing ever has been stolen. The time we locked the doors and we weren’t home, someone breaks in.

It can happen everywhere, even in safest place on Earth,” she said. “Truly (Utah) is the safest place on Earth.

Lopatova added that the burglars may have known whose house they were robbing, as well as the fact she and Kirilenko were out of town, as a result of word of mouth from people who talk to their friends. 

It’s an unfortunate situation, and it comes just a few weeks after fellow NBA star Ray Allen had his house broken into while his wife was home, but it’s good that Kirilenko and his wife are apparently taking everything in stride. 

Kirilenko likely has other things to focus on, as the Nets began the preseason in a little less than a month with a contest against reigning Euroleague champion Maccabi Tel Aviv. 

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Utah Jazz: Predicting Player Performances For ’14-15

  Looking ahead at the 2014-15 NBA season for the Utah Jazz, the team motto should be “nowhere to go but up.” The Utah Jazz franchise is smack in the middle of a massive draft-based rebuilding project that has landed them an entire starting roster of talented lottery picks including Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Alec […]
Utah Jazz: Predicting Player Performances For ’14-15 – Hoops Habit – Hoops Habit – Analysis, Opinion and Stats All About The NBA

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Early Win-Loss Predictions for Utah Jazz Next Season

The Utah Jazz are looking to finally turn the corner and have a better win-loss record during the 2014-15 season after looking both awful and boring for the majority of last year.

Being one of the NBA‘s worst teams was a result of having a young squad with a lack of a solid foundation. It felt like players were unsure of where they stood on the roster, and the franchise in general had an overall lack of direction.

The Jazz were going to be bad, but what were they going to do in order to fix the problems and become a better team?

Well, the good news is that they look to be finding some of those answers.

It appears as though the organization has a direction and is working hard on reaching its ceiling. Utah has some of the best fans in the league. They are always filling up the arena regardless of how well the team does, and it’s about time they get rewarded for it.

Next year will certainly be a better season, but how much better? Here’s a look at Utah’s win-loss prediction heading into the upcoming year.

 

Backcourt

If Utah is going to have any success during the 2014-15 season, then the Jazz are going to need exceptional play out of their guards.

The three key players will be Trey Burke, Alec Burks and Dante Exum.

Burke and Exum will need to be able to do a number of different tasks—one of which will be to play alongside each other in an efficient matter. Each needs to be able to start the offense and run at shooting guard in whatever order presents itself.

The next task is for one to be able to fill in for the other at any given time. If Exum starts the season off the bench, then he’ll have to be able to step up and take over for Burke when the time comes.

Burks will have the incredibly difficult job of being the No. 1 scorer off the bench. The tough part comes from the amount of pressure being put on the sixth man to perform on a nightly basis.

Guard play is key. Utah’s backcourt will need to consistently take care of the ball and play at a high level if the Jazz want to surprise fans and win a good chunk of games.

 

Frontcourt

Look around the NBA and try to find a team with a better group of young talent among its frontcourt than the Utah Jazz.

Are you still looking?

Players such as Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors are among some of the most talented young players in the entire league.

Kanter and Favors could be incredibly dominant at the power forward and center positions if they can figure out how to play with one another at the same time. Stepping onto the court next to each other has always seemed to hold one or the other back from hitting his true potential. Still though, the talent is clear as air; it just needs to come to fruition on a more consistent basis.

Averaging over 16 points, five rebounds and five assists during the course of an 82-game season proves how good a player someone is. It’s also exactly what Hayward was able to do last year.

His next move will be to prove that he can be the guy worthy of his $63 million contract. That will require more of an initiative on the offensive end of the floor and being the go-to guy, along with stepping up and guarding the opposing team’s best player on a nightly basis.

He’s got the talent to be that kind of player; it’s time for him to make it happen, though.

Add in the long-ball threat of Rodney Hood along with a developing Rudy Gobert, and we continue to see how youth and potential are heavily in Utah’s favor.

 

Coach

Tyrone Corbin just wasn’t the right man to lead Utah over the past three-and-a-half seasons. It never looked as if he wasn’t trying, but there was a certain passion that was missing.

The 2014-15 season will give us a look at Quin Snyder and if he can do a better job.

Corbin and Snyder have a different level of skill when it comes to player development. Corbin only played people when he felt they were ready. There were times when people like Burks never saw the floor strictly because Corbin didn’t feel like he had the game to compete.

Snyder does and will likely do his job a little differently.

The Salt Lake Tribune‘s Aaron Falk interviewed Snyder and heard a bit about how he plans on developing players. Here’s what Utah’s new coach had to say:

As an old college coach, that was something that you were really focused on. It’s become kind of something that everybody talks about, everybody wants to do. I think a couple things that are key is your staff has to be really, really good. You have to be teachers. You have to enjoy seeing guys improve. We’re awfully young. You’re going to see a lot of guys grow. Hopefully some will grow pretty fast. It’s a challenge, but it can be really rewarding as well when you see people get better.

It’s important to hear Snyder say that one of his staff’s keys will be to develop talent. The only negative part about making sure a player’s potential gets hit is that it means there has to be room for growth.

And there’s more than enough growth to go around with the Jazz.

Snyder will certainly help move the team in the right direction, but it will have to take some time.

It won’t all happen during the upcoming season.

 

Northwest Division

It’s difficult to say that there’s truly an easy division in the Western Conference. Luckily, Utah is a member of the least difficult.

Apart from the Jazz, the Northwest Division consists of the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers.

It’s definitely difficult but not nearly as bad as the Southwest Division, where four of the five teams made the playoffs last season.

Utah won’t be waiting around to start the season off with a challenge. It opens the year with playing Portland in the first two games of the season. The crazy part is that the Jazz will end up seeing the Trail Blazers four more times before the 82 games come to an end.

Combine those games with 14 other ones against the rest of the division, and there is some opportunity for wins.

Minnesota is in complete rebuilding mode, and Denver is one of those teams who will beat you by 10 points, only to lose by 25 the next night. Stealing a couple games from Portland and Oklahoma City will be difficult, but there’s definitely an opportunity for three or four wins between the two squads.

 

Western Conference

It’s no surprise that the teams in the Western Conference are much more talented than those in the East. Franchises in the Eastern Conference won a total of 556 games during the 2013-14 season.

The West won 674.

If 118 more victories isn’t proof enough, then it’s unclear as to what is. Utah only plays 30 of its 82 games against teams in the opposite conference, leaving it with 52 very difficult battles.

More athleticism among all positions should set the Jazz up for a stronger season. Unfortunately, their conference schedule does nothing toward leading to more wins.

 

Final Regular-Season Record/Standing

The Jazz can go in one of two directions. They can overachieve and surprise some people by winning games they weren’t expected to, or they can end up as exactly who they’re expected to be.

There are sure to be a number of cuts and changes to the final roster, but Utah currently has the youngest roster in the NBA. An average age of 23.4 is ridiculously young and potentially the leading factor toward another difficult year.

Could the Jazz compete for the playoffs this season? It’s highly unlikely. They would need a turnaround similar to the 2013-14 Phoenix Suns to make that happen.

Still though, seeing them consistently battle should become a regular sight.

Utah basketball has been boring for the past couple years. There’s no reason not to be blunt about it. A more athletic roster and first-year NBA coach should bring some life back into the franchise and be significantly more fun to watch.

 

Best-Case Record: 37-45

Expected Record: 25-57

Best-Case Western Conference Standing: No. 10

Expected Western Conference Standing: No. 14

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The Utah Jazz’s Silent Star

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
All the talk in and around this young core of the Utah Jazz seems to focus around but a few players; Trey Burke, Derrick Favors, new Jazz man Dante Exum, and the majority of this off-seasons talk has been on the newly resigned Gordon Hayward.
The truth is, the silent guy, who no one is talking about is the key to the this rebuild happening in Utah. Alec Burks is the silent star in Utah. He is never spoken about in national media, and he is rarely spoken of in Utah media.
However, last season he put up solid numbers coming off the bench, averaging 14 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. If you go by his per 36 minutes, those numbers increase to 17.9 points 4.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
Those are very solid numbers for a third year shooting guard. By comparison Klay Thompson (whom everyone seems to be in love with) put up 18.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per 36 minutes. So, in comparison Klay Thompson scores less than 1 point per 36 minutes more than Alec yet heâ

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University of Utah Basketball Legend Billy ‘The Hill’ McGill Dies at 74

Billy McGill, one of the most dominant basketball stars in the history of college hoops, died last month at the age of 74.

First reported by the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune, McGill’s death came as something of a surprise to those close to him. It was also a shock to the sports community of Salt Lake City, home of the University of Utah, where Billy ruled the courts during his best years.

McGill spent a week in Salt Lake just this past February, appearing before both Utah Utes college and Utah Jazz NBA games in support of his recently released book, Billy “the Hill” and the Jump Hook: The Autobiography of a Forgotten Basketball Legend. (Full disclosure: I assisted Mr. McGill with the text of his memoir.)

I had the honor of writing a eulogy of sorts for Mr. McGill, which his publisher posted.

With the NBA season already seeming to loom large on the horizon, despite the midsummer heat, it seems like an appropriate time to consider the life and death of this once great player.

The Short Corner, a basketball podcast featuring Justin Halpern (“Sh*t My Dad Says”) and Paul Shirley (Can I Keep My Jersey?), devoted half of a recent episode to discussion of McGill and the NBA of his era, the late ’60s, in memoriam.

McGill’s 38.8 ppg average in his senior year at Utah remains the all-time record for NCAA centers.

A contact at the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame noted that McGill remained under consideration for induction.

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Utah Jazz Rumors: Buying or Selling Gossip Ahead of 2014 NBA Draft

The Utah Jazz hold the No. 5 and No. 23 overall picks in the 2014 NBA draft, and rumors have become a typhoon—they are no longer merely swirling.

Whether it be which player the Jazz are likely to choose or Utah shipping selections elsewhere, validity of the news is constantly questioned.

And so, the multimillion-dollar question: Are we buying or selling the latest gossip?

Draft day is approaching quickly, and Bleacher Report is here to make sense of the recent buzz surrounding Utah’s first-round selections.

 

Note: All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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Why Are Utah Jazz Targeting Cleveland Cavaliers’ No. 1 Draft Pick?

The Utah Jazz have apparently found their man, which is probably why they’re making a serious play for the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ No. 1 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.

Spencer Checketts of 1280 The Zone in Salt Lake City originally reported that Utah had made a major offer to the Cavs for the No. 1 pick back on June 20:

Since then, Jody Gennessy of the Deseret News has been reporting additional details based on what Checketts has relayed on his radio show:

And for any skeptics out there who mistrust small-market reporting, be advised; we’ve got the big-time stamp of approval as well:

So it seems pretty certain that the Jazz are gunning for Cleveland’s pick. The question is: Why?

The most obvious answer is that Utah has zeroed in on the one player it can’t live without. For a while, it appeared that player was Jabari Parker. But ESPN’s Chad Ford raised a possibility that went against conventional wisdom in an ESPN.com chat back on June 18:

I know what Jazz fans want. They want Jabari. But I actually think Embiid and Wiggins may be higher on their boards. If they move up, don’t assume it’s for Parker. And please Jazz fans, don’t burn down Dennis Lindsay’s home if he passed on him. You’ll love Wiggins too.

Obviously, Joel Embiid‘s foot injury removes him from that equation. But Wiggins remains.

And if you think about it, Wiggins would have been a logical choice at No. 1 a year ago, when many thought he would have warranted the top selection if not for the NBA’s age limit that required him to wait a year before entering the draft.

Though some of the luster has dimmed, Wiggins remains a very promising prospect.

B/R’s Jonathan Wasserman called him a “high-upside wing with all-star potential,” and it’s not hard to miss Wiggins’ overall athletic appeal. At 6’8″, he features a 7’0″ wingspan, per Draft Express, and a 44-inch max vertical, per Scout.com.

He’s a fluid scorer who should develop into a terrific defender as he matures, and there’s little question he’ll be ready to compete athletically right away.

For all that, though, Wasserman has Wiggins pegged as the No. 3 pick, while Ford has him slotted at No. 2.

If we assume the Jazz are targeting Wiggins, though, it doesn’t really matter whether he’s projected to go first, second or third. As far as Utah’s concerned, the point is that he certainly won’t be available at No. 5, which means trading up is a necessity.

And while it’s tough to figure out why the Jazz are fixated on that top selection, one could speculate that other teams in the top four simply aren’t interested in making a deal. So the Jazz are talking with the one team, Cleveland, that might be willing to listen.

There are any number of additional explanations for Utah’s desire to climb the draft ladder, some of which actually have little to do with Wiggins. For example, it’s possible the Jazz have taken a long look at that four-year, $48 million extension they gave Derrick Favors and are having second thoughts.

Maybe the Jazz have their eye on another big man who they prefer to Favors. Maybe they think Enes Kanter (if his knee is healthy) is the interior presence they want to use in a four-out, one-in set.

Given the reported additions to the trade negotiations, it’s tough to get past the notion that Utah simply wants Wiggins.

Why else would it be tossing in such valuable assets?

Admittedly, there’s a lot of appeal to the idea of Wiggins, Trey Burke and Kanter making up a very young, very cheap core. And with so little money committed to future salaries, the Jazz could pretty comfortably match whatever offer sheet Gordon Hayward might sign this summer.

Ultimately, stars are hard to come by in the NBA, and it’s possible Wiggins is one of those rare players. It’s a long shot, sure, but at least the young man himself has confidence in what he’ll become.

I always put myself No. 1 above anybody else. That’s just me. I got a lot of confidence in myself,” Wiggins said on ESPN’s First Take (via Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com).

Maybe it’s not a widely held belief, and maybe there’s more going on here than what appears on the surface. But it’s hard to fault the Jazz for making a bold play like this, especially when it’s so out of character:

Hey, when you see something you like, go for it.

Let it never be said Utah is a dull place.

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Utah Jazz’s 2014 NBA Draft Big Board

The 2014 NBA draft is just days away, and for Utah Jazz fans, it brings with it hope after a dismal 2013-14 campaign.

It was a season that was expected to be rough after Utah’s front office allowed veterans Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap to walk in free agency last summer.

That step back may help the team take a few steps forward with yet another lottery pick, this time in the star-studded class of 2014.

The Jazz missed out on the opportunity to snag one of the really big names such as Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker (most likely) when they were announced to have the No. 5 pick at the lottery.

But the depth of this draft affords Utah the opportunity to pick up a great player with that fifth selection and maybe even at No. 23 with its second first-round pick.

Options abound at both of those spots.

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